As the third most watched sport in the world, F1 has the capacity to reach millions. And millions watched in awe as British F1 newcomer Lewis Hamilton, finished in third position in the first race of the season.
It was his very first race and his very first season, in which he went on to win four races, score nine pole positions before eventually losing the championship by a single point at the last race of the season. Lewis is also F1’s first black driver.
So how does a rookie, in his first season, get a drive at a top team and end the season contesting the championship against a double world champion? Apparently, by approaching a man like Ron Dennis, team boss of the Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes team, at an awards dinner. That’s exactly what Lewis did when he was 9 years old.
After receiving an award for his achievements in karting at an Autosports awards ceremony, he strolled up to Ron Dennis and asked him if he could drive in his race cars. Ron told him to call him in 10 years.
Just five years later, Lewis received a phone call from Ron. He offered to finance his motorsport career with the promise of a race seat in his F1 car. In return, Lewis had to stay at school and continue to work hard.
With his dream in sight, Lewis buckled down and did what he had to do, becoming GP2 champion in 2006.
There were, however, still doubts over his future. McLaren had secured the services of Fernando Alonso, the double world champion of 2005 and 2006, for the 2007 season and there was a spare seat available. The media hounded Ron to put Lewis in the seat, but Ron vowed to wait until Lewis was ready.
Lewis started his first race as an F1 driver on March 18, 2007, at Melbourne, Australia. Ron had spent the last six months intensively training Lewis in preparation for it.
It paid off, as he overtook Alonso, and a BMW driver, at the first corner to take second position. He kept Alonso behind him for most of the race, before losing out at the second round of pit stops, where Alonso jumped him.
Hamilton finished third, which was a magnificent achievement for a rookie in his first race. He was the first driver to debut on the podium in the sport’s 58-year history.
The second race of the season, in Malaysia, again showed the great skill of the 22-year-old from Hertfordshire. He took second place behind Alonso, but ahead of the two Ferrari’s, both of which he had passed.
The next two races, in Bahrain and Spain, respectively, saw Ferrari driver Felipe Massa win both, with Hamilton close behind in second.
The season was underway, and already becoming a four-horse race between Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, for Ferrari, and Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton for McLaren.
Problems rose at Monaco, when Lewis was held back during the race to allow Fernando the chance gain a lead over the rest of the field. Lewis wasn’t happy about this, as he felt he was faster than Fernando and should have been allowed to race him properly.
As a result, Alonso won his second race of the season, while Lewis finished second. This began a deep, bitter rivalry between the drivers.
Lewis, however, managed to fight back in the next race, with his first win, in Montreal. He qualified on pole and proceeded to lead the entire race. Alonso finished seventh, damaging his championship hopes.
A week later, at Indianapolis, an American showdown ensued. Lewis lined up first on the grid after setting the fastest time during qualifying. Fernando was right beside him, in the second car.
Both McLaren’s raced as hard as they could to the first corner, almost neck and neck, but with Hamilton on the racing line, Alonso had to settle for second place.
Alonso’s resentment of Hamilton and the team grew stronger, every time he was out-performed by the rookie.
France and Britain brought Hamilton third places, as he lost out to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at both, and the Nurburgring in Germany, the European Grand Prix, produced Hamilton’s first finish off the podium and outside the points with ninth place.
The conflict between Alonso and McLaren reached its peak at the Hungarian Grand Prix. During qualifying, Alonso came into the pits to get fresh tyres. Hamilton came up behind him in the pit box and had to wait.
The seconds passed and Alonso was waved on by his mechanic. But he didn’t move. He held up Hamilton, who missed out on his final lap and Alonso qualified first.
Hamilton, the McLaren team, the press and the public were outraged. The FIA gave Alonso a 10 place penalty. This set the tone for the rest of the season at McLaren.
Fifth place in Turkey, followed by second in Belgium, meant that Lewis was leading the championship with only three races to go. An exceedingly wet race in Japan provided another win. Lewis had two races to go and was 14 points ahead of Alonso, who didn’t finish, and 18 points over Kimi Raikkonen.
Shanghai was the penultimate race of the season. Hamilton was trying desperately to secure his lead. If he won the race, he would win the championship.
As the final quarter of the race began, a white stripe appeared on Hamilton’s right rear tyre. The tyre was delaminating itself due to the conditions. McLaren decided to keep him out for a few more laps, before bringing him in for fresh tyres.
Unfortunately, Hamilton’s lack of rear grip made him slide off into the gravel trap. He beached his car and was unable to get it out. Kimi Raikkonen won, with Alonso finishing in second place.
The final race of the season promised to be spectacular. A three way showdown between Alonso, Hamilton, and Raikkonen.
The race in Brazil started at 5 p.m., and nearly all of Britain watched as Lewis fought hard, before his gearbox software let him down, bringing the car to a halt for 18 seconds.
Kimi Raikkonen went on to win the race, with Alonso in third. Hamilton finished seventh. Raikkonen, the Ferrari driver, had won the world championship.
So how did having a black driver affect F1? The answer is, it didn’t.
Nobody cared that Lewis is black, except some Spanish fans, who were intent on making racist remarks towards him, risking the loss of the Spanish GP if they continue.
Hamilton has sworn to win the world championship this year.
Source : http://bleacherreport.com/articles/42511-lewis-hamiltons-amazing-rookie-year-in-formula-one